My Library and Courses
Last Update: Friday September 17, 2021

Key Idea: Form a Board of Advisors

John Castle shares his big business experience by serving on boards of small companies.

Key Question:


It will keep you from asking for advice.  To grow you need mentors and a board of advisors.

Small business owners often form their own collegial board of advisors. Opportunity Knocks is an organization based in Bend, Oregon. It has fourteen groups of entrepreneurs who get together once a month to solve each other problems. Albert Black, owner of On Target, has both a board of directors and a board of advisors.

Q:  How does a small business owner find advisors?

A: You look around for people who have already done what you want to do and ask for help. You can formalize this and ask three or four individuals to advice you on a regular basis in a group setting. A board of advisors does not have any fiduciary responsibility for your company, whereas, a formal board of directors does. As a business owner, you will have an accountant and probably an attorney. These people can be on your board of advisors, but, it is better to have other successful business owners.

Albert Black put his boards together after he spent a number of years working as a volunteer in non-profit organizations. In these situations, he met business and community leaders and he was able to "size them up" as to their ability to help him plan the future course of his company.

Q: Who serves on Vicky Carlson's "board of advisors?"

The Herman Miller Dealer Council serves as a board to Vicky. This is the perfect group for her but there may not be anything like this group that you can join. However, you can think about finding some group that will teach and inspire you. This type of learning is called peer-to-peer learning. According to the Edward Lowe Foundation, "A peer network consists of a small group of chief executives who meet regularly in a confidential, supportive environment under the direction of a seasoned facilitator. The group typically ranges from six to 14 participants who operate noncompeting businesses." We have taped many programs about business owners who tout the groups they depend upon for inside information to solve sticky problems and will mention just a few of the options.

If you are under 40 years of age, you can join Young Entrepreneur's Organization. If you are a woman, there is the Women President's Organization. If you have about $1,000 a month and will commit to a year's membership, you can join The Executive Committee, better known as TEC. The web site of the Edward Lowe Foundation has a group locator and links to articles about peer groups. As a member of a peer group, we believe that the biggest benefit of a powerful peer group is there is no advice given. We only tell our own stories of how we solved or failed to solve a particular problem. This way, you are guaranteed information from the real world.

Look for a group that does not try to sell to each other, one that has a facilitator to keep the discussion on track and one that does not bring in speakers.

Think about it

Who are your advisors/mentors now? How often do you meet and how can you more effectively tap into the power of a board of advisors/directors? Do you feel alone at the top? Are you in a group that helps you solve problems?

Clip from: Staying Power

Key Questions about business: What makes a business work?  Why do some make it while so many fail?  And, in the USA, why are there so many business start-ups every year?  How does a business make it beyond the first year? ...third year? ...and fifth year? These are benchmarks. Milestones. Most startups do not get past them.

So, when these veteran entrepreneurs answer the question, "How did you do it?," there is a lot to learn.

This television special outlines the common qualities found in companies that make profits for decades.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...
Go to the homepage for this episode...

On Target Supplies & Logisitcs

Albert Black, CEO

1133 South Madison
Dallas, TX 75208

Visit our web site:

Office: 214-941-4885

Business Classification:
Distribution, office supplies

Year Founded: 1988

Form a Board of Advisors

HATTIE: Number 4. Strong advisors. Strong advisors can come in the form of peer to peer groups, your CPA, attorney, banker and insurance broker. Or you may want to follow in the path of Albert Black, owner of On Target Supplies and Logistics. He has taken the time form a board of advisors.

HATTIE: Albert Black, owner of On Target, has both a board of directors and a board of advisers.

JOHN CASTLE: One thing I found very attractive from the first lunch I had with Albert is he had an attitude that said, "I want to learn."

HATTIE: John Castle, senior vice president of EDS, is the chairman of Albert's board of directors.

JOHN CASTLE (Dallas, Texas): He approached me and asked, "What do you think of the idea of creating an advisory board?" We would get other people he knew in the community who had senior positions in different companies who would meet with him periodically.

ALBERT BLACK (Dallas, Texas): The Board of Adivsors is more of a formal relationship with On Target. Even though these people do not have a fiduciary responsibility and they serve in an advisory capacity, I send them more information on the company for them to understand tthe progress and performance of the company than I do my financial committee. I like to think that I treat them with more formality and they will be more judgmental.
Go to the episode about Albert Black  
JOHN CASTLE: The role we play is a sounding board. Albert brings to us his ideas, his strategies, and we give him our perspective on what he's saying. And often it's a different perspective than what we've seen, how other companies have gone through some phases he's going through. You start small and as as you grow your business you will go through transitions. Like the people on the advisory board they have been through already what Albert is getting ready to face. They can say here's what we saw from our perspective and here's what you may be going through and some of the challenges you are going to face and maybe some of the opportunities you will have.

VOICE OVER: Vicky Carlson, owner of Office Pavilion, the San Diego based Herman Miller Furniture Dealership is a member of National Dealer Council made up of other dealers. They meet twice a year and serve as advisors to one another.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!